Wine Industry Overview

An overview of the wine industry

The wine industry is an important agricultural industry in both the primary production and high-quality value-added sectors. The significance of wine production in New Zealand is indicated by the following:

  • The current producing area stands at 34,269 ha (2012 Vineyard Register Report), with approximately 66% of the producing area being Marlborough. The industry comprised over 700 wineries ranging from small boutique wineries to large company owned businesses in 2012. Around 50 percent of wine grapes are grown under contract for wineries by over 800 independent growers, with the rest grown by wineries themselves.
  • After taking into account the New Zealand wine industry’s interlinkages with the rest of the economy, in 2008 the industry contributed over $1.5 billion to New Zealand’s GDP and supported over 16,500 full time equivalent jobs. (NZIER report “Economic Impact of the New Zealand Wine Industry” April 2009 )
  • The wine industry is regionally concentrated in a number of areas including
    • Auckland
    • Northland
    • Waikato and Bay of Plenty
    • Gisborne
    • Hawkes Bay
    • Wairarapa/Wellington
    • Nelson
    • Marlborough
    • Canterbury
    • Central Otago

The industry is a strong contributor to regional development and tourism in these areas.

  • There is significant regional variation in the scale of wine industry activity. For example, some regions are far more dependent on ancillary operations than others due to the marginal return per hectare of land.
  • New Zealand grape growers and winemakers are committed to sustainable production, with approximately 95 percent of the winery productive capacity included in the Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand Programme.
  • The wine industry is export-focused and dedicated to quality production, with products generally selling in the top 15% price bracket on overseas markets.

Wine is a significant contributor to the economy in 2012 export earnings were approximately $1.2 billion, with total sales of approximately $1.7 billion, current projections estimate that total value will exceed $2.2 billion by 2016. In 2012 the wine industry was New Zealand’s second most valuable export to the European Union and the United Kingdom, the third most valuable to Australia and Canada, and the fifth most valuable to the United States (Ex statistics New Zealand, global New Zealand trade report).

Industry governance is provided at a national level by New Zealand Winegrowers. It is the national body that represents, promotes and researches the interests of the New Zealand grape and wine industry. It was established in 2002 as a joint initiative between the Wine Institute of New Zealand and the New Zealand Grape Growers Council Incorporated. All New Zealand growers and wineries are members of New Zealand Winegrowers through their parent organisations, the Wine Institute of New Zealand and the New Zealand Grape Growers Council.

The wine industry in New Zealand is characterised by a wide range of operational types. Operations range from winegrowing only, ancillary cellar door facilities and boutique wine production, through to large-scale off-site wine production. These operations are not mutually exclusive and can change over time. Generally, winegrowers have to increase the scale of their activity in order to increase productivity.